Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the North
9:16 AM 25th May 2021

Leeds Primary School Scoops Top Award

New Bewerley Community Primary School in Beeston has become one of only a handful of schools in the country to receive a Platinum Artsmark Award. The award recognises the school’s success in embedding the arts at the core of the curriculum, leading to a marked uplift in the pupils’ confidence, aspirations and educational attainment.

“Getting Platinum Artsmark means we're an exciting school. The teachers change things that might not be fun and make them more exciting and this lets us become talented artists and musicians. My favourite things about New Bewerley are my friends, teachers and the activities we’re able to do. When I'm older, I know I'll be able to get the job I want because of the skills school has given me.”
Year 5 Pupil

Platinum is the highest level in the Arts Council England accredited scheme which celebrates educational settings where learning is brought to life through arts and culture.

In September 2016, New Bewerley Community Primary School joined the award-winning In Harmony Opera North programme which provides regular musical learning for every pupil including the opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument and to sing in a choir.

“Your aim to promote social mobility by up-skilling children through an aspirational, arts and culture-rich curriculum is impressive.”
Platinum Artsmark Award Feedback

Having seen the impact that this had on all aspects of school life, the decision was taken two years ago to introduce more arts-based learning into the curriculum and to start working towards the Artsmark Award.

In notifying the school of its achievement, Artsmark praised its innovative ‘Include, Create and Perform’ ethos, alongside the care which has been taken to foster and facilitate the children’s engagement with the arts.

Gary German, Headteacher of New Bewerley Primary School, said:
“Since establishing ourselves as an In Harmony Opera North school, every one of our pupils has been given access to high quality music tuition with regular singing lessons and the chance to master an orchestral instrument provided for them.

"When we saw how much this both enriched the children’s lives and improved their outcomes in other areas, we took the decision to redesign the curriculum using the arts more broadly as a tool to increase confidence, improve concentration and raise and maximise achievement.

“The difference this commitment to an arts-based curriculum has made to everyone in the school is incredible. We are so proud of everything that the children and teaching team have achieved and to have been given this accolade in recognition of their hard work is quite simply the icing on the cake!”

Recognising the value of the arts in increasing social mobility has been a key driver in the school adopting this approach, particularly as it sits in one of the most economically-deprived areas in the country.

Valuable performance opportunities have been provided by Opera North and other arts organisations in Leeds, including Northern Ballet and Wrongsemble Theatre, to build confidence among the children and to engage the parents and wider community.

Aspirations have also been raised with gifted and talented young players having been selected for Yorkshire Young Musicians, and dance bursaries being offered by Northern Ballet as the first steps to pursuing a career on the stage – something the children would never previously have considered.

Jacqui Cameron, Education Director, Opera North, said:
“We’re passionate about the transformational impact the arts can have on children’s lives by opening doors that were previously closed to them, and so are particularly delighted to see all the pioneering work by both the staff and children at New Bewerley Community Primary School recognised in this way.

“We have watched the schools involved with In Harmony Opera North go from strength-to-strength and look forward to celebrating their continuing success in inspiring young people to aim high in everything they do.”

Over 1,800 children each week are currently engaged in In Harmony Opera North across Leeds.

In addition to New Bewerley Community Primary School, the participating schools are Windmill Primary School, which was the first to introduce the programme into its curriculum in 2013, Low Road Primary School, Richmond Hill Academy and The Stephen Longfellow Academy.

After-school provision is also provided at The Ruth Gorse Academy to ensure students can continue to develop their musical talents as they transition to secondary school.

The long-term residency sees Opera North’s Education team delivering structured music sessions within curriculum time every week for all pupils in the school. During the recent lockdowns, the transition was made to online learning to ensure continuity for all those involved until a return to the classroom was permitted under government guidelines.